Bike Mech Tip ‘o The Day

-Written by BL Brown

Here we offer tips and stories of how to find problems on your bike, to help you have a well maintained bike.  You don’t have to be a professional mechanic to understand what is happening when something goes wrong, but it’s nice to know how serious an issue may be and to identify safety issues.  Don’t let the clicks, skips and bumps go unchecked.  When in doubt, go see your local bike mechanic!


Learn to search for the cause of an issue going over the entire ‘system’ that part belongs to.  Just because the ‘gears are skipping/slipping’ doesn’t mean the issues lies with the gears or chain necessarily.  Go farther up the drive train or shifting system, like the transmission in a car, to find more potential parts and issues that could cause the chain to move over the gears without you touching the shifter.



The Story:

After replacing the cassette on Frankenbike, during the test ride I noticed a clicking noise.  Then I realized the gears were slipping. Or actually the chain was switching over the gears without using the shifter.  So I knew something needed to be adjusted. 

What To Check:

  • At home, put the bike in a stand
  • Pedal the bike while shifting through the gears.  Notice the angle of the derailleur, the ease of the the transitions, the cable’s movement through housing and the shifter and how the shift levers/grip move.  Repeat up and down several times.

The Real Problem:

On my bike, I could see there were a couple issues. 

  1.  The cable needed to be replaced, it was dry and rusted and not moving well through the housing.
  2. The whole right shifter, in my case a down tube shifter, was slipping against the frame when engaging and preventing the chain from holding in one place. 

The Solution:

  1. Replace the cable and housing for the rear derailleur.
  2. Full disassembly and clean of the shift lever, which was caked with grime, so it can properly hold to the frame. 


End Result:

After both issues repaired, Frankenbike is riding and shifting happy!!


What have you done to discover the root of an odd bike problem?  Leave a comment!



Brown is a United Bicycle Institute Certified Bicycle Mechanic, League Certified Safety Instructor through the League of American Bicyclists  and member of the Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association.

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